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  1. #1
    Master BHUZzer Sonja2's Avatar
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    Question What's your minimum class size?

    Before you cancel a session? I have a new session coming up, and with the number of teachers in the area and the way the economy has been, I've only gotten a handful of responses. Realistically I MUST have at least 3 students in order to pay the studio fee and walk away with anything at all (and that will be less than minimum wage).

    So, what's your minimum class size, and how do you break the news to the class if you don't have enough pre-registers and walk-ins to meet the minimum? I plan to send out a notice again that class begins Monday, and I may put a note at the bottom indicating that if there are fewer than 4 registrants, the session may be subject to cancellation.

    I'd really like to hear your thoughts. This happened to me once before, I ended up with 2 students, and basically I taught a session for free for 6 weeks. I swore I'd never do it again.


  2. #2
    Mega BHUZzer Lara L's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    I had to combine 2 classes last semester- I need 2.5 students to cover costs (don't forget to include advertising, your driving expense, insurance, etc. in addition to space rental when you count cost!) so 4 is my minimum.


  3. #3
    Master BHUZzer Sonja2's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lara L View Post
    I had to combine 2 classes last semester- I need 2.5 students to cover costs (don't forget to include advertising, your driving expense, insurance, etc. in addition to space rental when you count cost!) so 4 is my minimum.
    I'm only teaching 1 class, or I'd do that as well--the only option would be to funnel them into my instructor's class, which is the studio I teach out of. She has had similar problems with low enrollment, and just had to combine 2 classes, herself. ,f::

    I sent directions and reminders out, and just put a note that if fewer than 4 register, the session may be subject to cancellation. I will most likely hold the class for anyone who shows up the first day, even if it's just 2, and hold off on payments until end of class. If not enough walk-ins occur, I'll cancel the session.


  4. #4
    Mega BHUZzer Lara L's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    There is also a matter of building a name for yourself when you are just getting started- I'm okay with losing money for a semester or two if it keeps my name out there- so even one class that starts with few students may be plausible to maintain, especially if you are allowing drop-ins. Just something else to think about!


  5. #5
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    I'm ok with losing money to keep a class going, and I've taught with as few as 3 in the class before even though my stated minimum was 5 at the time. I'd rather hang onto those 3 than start all over!

    Fewer than 3 just feels awkward. There's no group energy. If one person misses a week, you're teaching a private to someone who didn't necessarily want that intensity.


  6. #6
    Master BHUZzer Sonja2's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    Lauren, I agree, I'm okay with 3, but if there are only 2...well... Like you said, it's just more like a shared private lesson.


  7. #7
    Mega BHUZzer SamarDahab's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    It depends on whether it's a split with the studio or I'm renting. If it's a split, I need at least 3. If I'm renting, I need enough students to pay the fee plus earn at least 30 per class. That's low but it's ok.


  8. #8
    Master BHUZzer shems's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    It depends on the situation. I tried a "free" early morning class for a while and the turnout was spotty at best, but I was getting paid a set wage for the class. When I first started teaching in Baltimore at my current location, I ran one of my first classes with 2 students, but fortunately things have built since then (although I should probably do another postcard distribution through the city...maybe when it isn't so cold!).

    This week I started my classes - I have a basics class both on Tuesday and Thursday at 6pm - Tuesday had about 3 students and Thursday about 20, which is a lot for the little studio I'm in at 6pm...go figure? I encouraged some Thursday folks to defect. I think it will be okay.

    I don't think I would run a class if I were going to take a loss. As long as I'm breaking even or coming out a little bit ahead with some light at the end of the tunnel I think I'd run it. There is something really important about consistency for retention.


  9. #9
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. anala's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    Sing it with me now...one is the lonliest number...yes one. But I still try to make it fun. The studio eats even if there is one, or none..so what the hey?


  10. #10
    Advanced BHUZzer TexasRuya's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    Where I was before, I needed at least 5 to pay studio fees and at least put a little gas money in my pocket. However I frequently would have just one or two show up sporadically - if any. But I still had to pay studio fees even when no one showed. So I operated at a loss from July-October just to try & keep my name out there, but it just wasn't worth it past that point. Now I'm in a new location and can hold class at a better day & time. So far no problems with meeting minimum class size. Where I am now I'd want at least 3 to keep it a group energy; 5 is better, but I'd take 3.


  11. #11
    Official BHUZzer Hechicera's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    I've just started a new class at a "boutique" private women's only boot camp and personal training site. While it's more like a gym/fitness style set-up that a traditional dance studio, the owner requires a four week pre-pay for all students with a minimum of 4 pre-pays before class will be held that month. I'm getting a straight teaching fee, no cut, so this works for me. As some of the other clients get interested, we'll probably start a slightly higher per class drop in fee. 8-10 is probably the maximum it will hold anyway, so we'll see. I'm clearing $30/hour and not having to handle any of the registration and very limited marketing responsibilities, so for now it's an ok arrangement.


  12. #12
    Master BHUZzer Sonja2's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    I pay a set studio fee, but won't have to pay the fee if class is cancelled. If I have 2 students, I might make $8 per class (that does not include subtractions for gas, etc.). I'm not in it for the money, frankly, but I don't want to have to pay to teach...in other words, I have to break even, at least.

    Well, here's hoping I have 3, anyway, and it won't matter !! :-)


  13. #13
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    Regarding taking a loss: I look at a class as a mini-business and run it that way -- coming from an entrepreneurial background.

    A new business is usually expected to lose money for the first couple of years. i wouldn't go that long with a class, but I'll go 6 months sometimes. IF I believe the class has potential.

    But I need to believe that I have the potential to clear a lot more than $30/hour (after expenses like insurance and advertising) in order to keep teaching a class. Self-employment taxes are high, and there are a very finite number of teaching hours available during the week.

    My situation is probably different since I depend on this income to support my family. I know most teachers do it for sequin money or for fun.


  14. #14
    Advanced BHUZzer maurazebra's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    If a class is scheduled, we hold it. In a crazy world, we try to be a small beacon of stability :) It has cost us money in the past, but these days a lot of new students do NOT preregister, they just show up.


  15. #15
    Mega BHUZzer lylagus's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    I'm now requiring that I have at least 4 prepaid for the session but i'll run it with 3 people. I tell everyone and post it on flyers that I need 4 people prepaid for things to run. I can't afford babysitting fees, studio rental for 1-2 people....it just doesn't work. If I end up having 1 person show up (pre-4 people minimum) I would do a half class


  16. #16
    Ultimate BHUZzer lizajuk's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    My employers demand a minimum of 10 and I note they are advertising one class for me and not two this term. I am of course bound by their economics. AS I live close and have no expenses for traveling I don't mind. They probably would let it run with 9. To be truthful I would be happy to teach or rather work with a dedicated group who cover the rent these days. The roll-over of beginners at a college seems to get no where and for keen people I recommend they go to monthly workshops.
    Whatever I am not interested in being self-employed and am happy just to promote this dance and make sure everyone interested has the opportunity to find the class that suits them .


  17. #17
    Mega BHUZzer Lara L's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren_ View Post
    Regarding taking a loss: I look at a class as a mini-business and run it that way -- coming from an entrepreneurial background.

    A new business is usually expected to lose money for the first couple of years. i wouldn't go that long with a class, but I'll go 6 months sometimes. IF I believe the class has potential.
    That's where I'm coming from too, tho I am doing it for sequin money, not to feed the fam. Hey, I've got 5 people who need sequins in my family... part of nurturing, no?

    some other things to look at- can you shift studio time to hold class when more folks might be able to come? do you have other low cost advertising options you haven't utilized yet? can you offer a discount or coupon? is there some other 'value added' thing you can throw in to sweeten the deal & get folks in? bring a friend for 50% off, free hip scarf with 6 month registration?

    I also agree with Maura- I am seeing a lot more drop ins than preregistrations lately.

    edit: that was in response to what makes me think this class has potential to grow- look at local factors that tell you what/when/where to teach. not sure that made any more sense, but it's all my brain will spit out for now!
    Last edited by Lara L; 01-08-2010 at 01:10 PM.


  18. #18
    Advanced BHUZzer eshe's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    Knock on wood, I haven't ever cancelled a class at my studio. There's been times where it's just been 1 student for a whole month but eventually that picked up. Most people get confused enough when my schedule hasn't changed in over a year :) If I was changing the times it would be even harder.


  19. #19
    Advanced BHUZzer khalida777's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    Our minimum is 8 students, but we will run a class for 6 or fewer especially if the students are beyond Level 1 and are committed to learning.


    Khalida


  20. #20
    Advanced BHUZzer ouroboros's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    For me the minimum is 3 (covers costs) but I prefer a minimum of 5 (make my minimum wage).


  21. #21
    Just Starting! Kisaya's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    I "require" a minimum of 4 registered students for each class session. That being said, I have been known to run a session with only drop-ins or for-barter students. I do have a handful of students that I barter for classes instead of payments. I always make sure the exchange is of equal value to whatever my class session would run. I won't cancel class until the first day, simply because I've had a lot of students who show up for the first day of class rather than preregistering, so it's hard to tell how many I'll have registered until day one.

    Honestly, the biggest factor in deciding how many I need to register has to do with my own costs. I need to cover advertising, babysitting for three kids, transportation, etc. With a new baby in the house, I just can't afford to take a loss anymore.

    Of course, I've been known to totally break my own rule. I've run my class when there were only two students registered. The students I had at the time just made it worth it. They were the kind of people that just seeing how much they enjoyed the dance made it worth taking the loss to show up!


  22. #22
    Master BHUZzer casbahdance's Avatar
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    Re: What's your minimum class size?

    Most of the cities through which I teach have a required minimum of 5 enrollees; these are all by-the-session classes, no drop-ins. My minimum is also five, but I'll do four, especially if 2-3 are returning/continuing students; I've been with most of the locations long enough that they really don't enforce the minimum and allow me to decide if I wish to run the class.

    At all my locations, students can register all the way until the class starts, so I almost always at least attend the first lesson. Enough signups? Great, the class runs. Not enough registrants? I visit with anyone who attends and give a brief mini-lesson, unless it's just one person, and we usually spend about 20 minutes together. It's free for the students and, because I encourage them to do so (and bring a friend), I hope that they will sign up for next session. Personal contact and connection are very important.

    Like Lauren, I think of each class as a mini-business of its own and it needs to make money most of the time but, as so many have already stated, being consistent in offering the class over time, running as many as possible even if they're a bit on the more "break even" side of the ledger, is key.

    IMO.

    Deborah


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